Veolia to use electric bin lorries for grid balancing

Could the bin lorry that collects your rubbish also play a role in balancing the grid and allowing it to accommodate more renewables? In Southeast London Veolia is trialling a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology that will enable its waste collection trucks to power UK homes by feeding back stored energy from their batteries to the grid.
The project will centre on a fleet of 40 electric trucks that collect waste from Westminster and deposit it at the SELCHP combined heat and power plant. The trucks are charged in the adjacent depot, where the vehicles are parked from around 1pm to 6am, when not on collection rounds. Now Veolia has trailed the use of V2G technology with two of the vehicles.
At 300kWh, each truck battery holds six times the energy stored an average car. Early experience with charging the trucks revealed that except on extremely cold days they depart the depot at around 6am with a full charge and return with the batteries at a 50-70% charge level. With the fleet parked for up to 18 hours, the vehicles can vary charging to help make instant adjustments to maintain local electricity supply parameters (frequency and voltage). They may also charge at times when power prices are low – typically the early afternoon or overnight – and export the power back to the grid at peak energy consumption times – typically 5-7pm – when prices are high. The vehicles batteries are 300kWh, with 270kWh of usable battery capacity, so discharging at a 100kW rate from a full battery provides two hours of discharge to support the grid.
The first phase of the V2G trial performed by Veolia has been successfully completed, enabling energy to be charged and discharged from two specially designed bi-directional vehicles. Veolia now plans to expand the trial and test it out on the streets, using 40 Westminster council collection vehicles to pilot the innovation.
While they are parked, the trucks are performing the same function as stand-alone batteries, as they can recharge from the electrical grid, feed back stored energy from their batteries to the grid, contribute to grid stability by regulating frequency and voltage and even store excess energy for later use.
The fleet’s battery usage will eventually be managed to optimise battery health, the carbon intensity of grid supplies used to charge the batteries and revenue from frequency response services to the grid and power arbitrage.
Veolia said the first two trucks had been active participants in the electricity balancing market since April 2023. It said previous V2G trials had not opened up the market because each had used a different charging standard, but this trial uses common combined charging standard (CCS) technology.
Veolia said it plans to electrify all of its 1,800 UK refuse collection vehicles by 2040, which will enable the company to provide around 200MW of flexible power capacity to the grid, an equivalent of the evening peak energy demand of over 150,000 homes.
In addition, Veolia will maximise the use of local energy from its waste-to-energy plants to power its vehicles. This will be led by the Landmann Way depot, which will be powered by low-carbon electricity bought under a power purchase agreement with the adjacent SELCHP plant and delivered via a 2.5MW private wire. The company says the direct connection will enable the link to be built at a faster pace than new connections to the local distribution network.
Gavin Graveson, Senior Executive Vice President Veolia Northern Europe Zone said: “Flexibility innovations like this one have the potential to revolutionise the way we manage our energy usage and represent a huge opportunity to cut costs and carbon”.
For the project Veolia partnered with electric vehicle charger manufacturer Turbo Power Systems, vehicle repower experts Magnetic Systems Technology (Magtec) and EV charge point management software provider Fuuse, with support from technology provider, Advantics.
The V2G trial was demonstrated at a Veolia ‘energy day’ where chief executive Estelle Brachlianoff stressed that there was 400GW of “untapped energy potential” in energy efficiency across Europe that could be accessed by measures such as using waste heat. She said: “We need to innovate in local decarbonising energy and transform our traditional approaches to take advantage of untapped sources. This requires a change of mindset and a collective willingness to rethink the way we produce, distribute and consume energy. The success of the V2G demonstration illustrates this perfectly. By enabling electric vehicles to become active players in the power grid, we are harnessing their potential to balance energy supply and demand, reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy”.

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